Spring is often known as “allergy season”, thanks to mold and pollen that tend to rise during this warmer, wetter time of year. And unfortunately, we, humans, aren’t the only ones prone to allergies; horses can suffer from them as well.
For horses, allergies typically manifest in the skin or lungs, but they can also affect the digestive system. Traditional allergy treatments often include antihistamines or steroids that work to treat the allergy symptoms, but unfortunately, these medicines don’t get to the root cause of the problem.
According to holistic medicine, allergies result from an imbalance within the immune system and are caused by a hypersensitive state that develops because of this imbalance; certain allergens are just the trigger that set off a reaction.
Holistic medicine also aims to get to the root of the problem and restore balance within the immune system. Sometimes, the allergy symptoms can be eliminated, but in other circumstances, they can only be managed.
Nutrition is one of the best ways to address allergies (as well as many other issues) in horses, but the key with any holistic allergy treatment is sticking with it, as it may take up to a year or more to see results.
What to Stop Feeding
For skin allergies, many nutritionists and holistic practitioners recommend eliminating sweet feeds and high-protein feeds as they can contribute to inflammation. Feeds with molasses, sugar, or corn should be the first to go. Another ingredient to eliminate is corn oil or any other vegetable oil which is high in omega 6 content, as these are also pro-inflammatory.
For lung allergies such as heaves, eliminating dust and mold is crucial. This could mean avoiding dusty feeds and hay (especially round bales) and also possibly soaking hay or feed to eliminate dust.
What to Start Feeding
The Holistic Horse offers several supplements that can help support the immune system and provide nutritional support for allergies:
- Flaxseed: The high omega 3 content present in flaxseed can help reduce inflammation and strengthen the immune system. Flaxseed is especially helpful for skin allergies.
- Allergex—Allergy Support for Horses: This herbal formula is part of our signature organic line created by an equine veterinarian specializing in endocrinology, herbs, and nutrition. Allergex addresses the underlying immune system with Echinacea while calming and relaxing your horse’s mind with Inositol, a B-Vitamin derivative, and Magnesium. Nettle and Burdock address allergic skin processes directly and Eyebright assists with respiratory reactions and allergies. (Note: This formula is show safe.)
Breezee—Respiratory Support for Horses: Also from our signature organic line, Breezee addresses respiratoryallergies in horses, reducing inflammation of the airways with Thyme, bronchial contraction with Mullein and Lobelia, and mucus with Elecampane and Peppermint. To assist the immune system, Astralagus has been added to the formula. (Note: Withdraw this supplement 48 hours before competition. Do not use on pregnant or lactating mares.)
- Icelandic Organic Kelp: Containing 60 trace minerals, micro nutrients, and amino acids as well as many natural vitamins, kelp can help boost the immune system, balance hormones, and support the endocrine system–all important for horses with allergies.
- Bee Pollen: Interestingly enough, bee pollen can be beneficial for horses with allergies since it strengthens the immune system and is also a great source of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids and other nutrients.